When soaring past the Rocky Mountains surrounding Glenwood Springs, trees seem to be the size of pinecones, streets look like pencil lines scrawled across the ground, and houses resemble Monopoly real estate. Yet the certified instructors at Adventure Paragliding assure first-timers that when they’re strapped in and soaring, a fear of heights seldom rears its head. That's because paragliding doesn’t involves the falling sensation of parachuting—pilots instead gently launch by jogging down a slight incline. When their feet leave the ground and the parachute-like sail carries them through the sky, they can turn and soar serenely, eventually landing softly.
The instructors fight myths about the scariness of their sport with regularity. They maintain that manning a paraglider takes more precision than bravery or physical strength, and their introductory lessons aim to impart that precision to all ages so that they might feel free flight and witness the midair views of the Rocky Mountains. For protégés in pursuit of loftier journeys, immersive certification programs cover more advanced techniques, such as ridge soaring and telling a snowcapped mountain apart from a giant sculpture of George Washington’s head.
Mountain-bikers cruise down unpaved roads past llama ranches. All these Colorado adventures are accessible even to first-timers and youngsters thanks to Blazing Adventures. The company was spawned on the whitewater in 1973, and today, its guides lead outdoor activities suited for all ages and adrenaline-tolerance levels.
On the more relaxing end of the spectrum, there's the Backcountry Sunset Dinner. As the colors of the setting sun paint the mountains, groups gather around a campfire for live music, s'mores, and a dinner fresh off the grill. The dinner can easily cap a day of adventure, spending it winding through high mountain passes in a fleet of Jeeps. At the other end of the spectrum is the company's half-day "Slaughterhouse Raft" whitewater excursion, which tests experienced rafters with a Class IV course along the Roaring Fork River, dotted with boulder gardens and a six-foot waterfall drop. Whatever the adventure, all of the guides keep things safe with their numerous credentials, including certifications in first aid, CPR, and stealing fire from the heavens.